Roaming around the streets of India, it is common to see the stalls of food. People holding a plate of a fine mess of Sev puri, Dahi puri, or eating the panipuris like gourmands and with a swoosh is a very usual sight at hustle-bustle of streets of India. Street food is the soul of India; it connects people eating it with the local traditions, taste, and make them experience the nature of Indian spices out of the four walls of the Kitchen. The savoury street food is meant to be on street stalls to taste its bonafide elements.
However, Ushna restaurant brings the unique aspect of Fine Dining to the flavour profile of street food. Dahi Puri is presented so merely yet well in Ushna that it sets the benchmark for the presentation of Indian Chaat in Fine Dine restaurants across Abu Dhabi. Warm and soft textured puris with a mouthful of stuffing are subtle, tangy, and gratifying. Sweetened Yoghurt (Dahi), Tamarind chutney, and white pea ragda (with a hint of Ghee) work perfectly for the street food between four walls of the swanky restaurant – Ushna.
उष्ण (Ushna), a Sanskrit word means ‘warm’ is an integral part of the theme of Ushna Restaurant. There is warmth in hospitality, food, and service of Ushna. The elegant interiors, soft lighting, and excellent indoor, as well as outdoor seating arrangements with a view of backwaters and iconic Grand Mosque (a partial view), are super cherishing features of Ushna.
The world-class drinks (cocktails and mocktails) with the essence of Indian heritage and a variety of wines respecting the nation of terroir and suitable for every occasion makes the drinking experience in Ushna unforgettable.
The range of Kababs and Tikkas in Ushna is long. There are Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian options for Tandoor preparations. The Maharaja Platter comprises the varieties of non-veg Kababs & Grills in one Dish, and it is recommended for sharing. Although the Kababs & Grills are cooked to the perfection, the smoky salad with a hint of saffron makes a difference. The slice of Kabab with fork and knife compliments the smokiness of fresh leafy salad or vice-versa, and you may experience the platter at its best form. The nuttiness of fish tikka, burnt spices & earthy flavour of lamb chops, and softness of chicken describes the grandeur of the platter to the perfection. The platting is a bit messy, but its beautiful mess since messy plating is a trend of modern cuisine.
With a combination of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian, Ushna serves 16 different types of curries, but a section in the concise one-page menu of curries that catches the eyes is ‘Colonial’. Chicken curry and the fish curries of this section are unique, and their concept is based on the Colonial Era of India. The hero of the Colonial curries is Southern Railway Chicken curry. The Railway Chicken Curry, a great fare from the east of India that’s been around for more than 70 years. The history of the Railway Chicken Curry dates back to the British era when the only source for long journeys was railways. The First Class Railway carriages were no less than grand and plush chariots with kitchens serving fabulous food. Bengal was one of the first footholds for the British, and they had hired local cooks for preparing their scrumptious spreads. The Railway Chicken curry is inspired by Mangshore Jhol; a curry made with mutton chunks in Bengal. Mangshore Jhol was initially spicy and of course devoid of chicken. It’s British who introduced Chicken to Indian; previously, Indians used to eat lamb (mutton). Magshore Jhol, later, to suit the delicate palate of the Britishers added with coconut milk to dilute the spices. The perception of spices was reduced by adding coconut milk in Mangshore Jhol inspired Chicken curry. Since coconut milk was (and still is) staple of south India, the Railway Chicken curry got popularised in southern British province and named ‘Southern Railway Chicken curry’. This chicken curry is spicy (not hot, but spicy), humble, subtle, and delicious. Southern Railway Chicken curry by Ushna is definitely their best selling dish, but it’s more than a dish, it is a food with warmth of compassion and rich colonial culinary history of India.
Stating just one dish and appreciating is not sufficient to describe the culinary expertise of chefs of Ushna restaurant. Each curry and savoury dish of Ushna is artistic and holds the essence of the Indian subcontinent. Chicken 65 Biryani with pronouncing flavour of southern spices, a hint of curry leaves, and aromatic basmati rice is true to its concept of Biryani, and it is delicious spread.
Let it be a cheese naan in Maharaja Platter or the plain roti, Usha’s bread is fresh, complementary to the curries, and perfect.
As the moon has black spots, Ushna too lacks in some aspects of culinary and presentation expertise. The desserts taste ordinary, and platting is average. The curries are served in a simple bowl which is definitely not catchy, the messy platting of Maharaja platter can be a dull affair for the culinary connoisseur, and dessert platter with a combination of Gulab Jamun, Ice Cream, and Rasmalai is ignorant platting. There are chances of mixing the cream of Icecream and milk of Ras Malai if not started eating them promptly upon service. The sweetness of Gulab Jamun is more than Normal; since it is served on crispy seviyan (Vermicelli), the syrup of Gulab Jamun penetrates the seviyan which is not gets absorbed in it. This makes the entire combination an abnormal sweet affair. The prices are higher than similar level eateries in Abu Dhabi; Ushna is overpriced. However, the wide range of collection of wines, scrumptious delicacies, excellent location, and award-winning spree makes Ushna a place for special occasions. Experience the Flavour of India in its pure form with a modern touch in Ushna.
Average Cost: AED 295 for two people (approx.)
Location: Ground Level, Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Bain Al Jessrain, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
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